First, understand that you’re going to cry a lot.
This place isn’t home yet, and some Fridays you’ll have a sinking feeling that it’ll never be home. You’ll forget why you were so enamored with it, why you cried actual happy tears when you got the job, or how everyone looked at you when you said,
“I’m moving to Washington.”
Someone will tell you, two weeks after getting on a one-way United flight, that you’ll really start to fall in love with D.C. in the spring. But it’s June right now, you just moved, and it’s too hot. Your new apartment, by contrast, is much too cold. The A/C is too high. You have no idea right now that, in the winter, your apartment will be much too hot. It will never be perfect, so your window will always be thrown open. This is important. It’s what you used to do in Missouri because it’s what you used to do in Illinois.
You’ll forget that you need yoga to stay sane, and running to stay happy. So you’ll stop doing both. Work will take up a majority of your time because you’re not adjusted yet, and you’ll wonder if you’re ever going to have best friends here, friends who will let you lay on the floor and cook you dinner while they listen to you vomit anxieties into their apartment ceilings:
“We’re gonna break up.”
“What if I never do something that matters?”
“I don’t feel like myself anymore.”
Moving to a new city is terrifying and beautiful and you’re not going to know anyone and some days that’s a blessing, some days that’s a curse. You’ll get comfortable with yourself, with what you want, and how you want it. You’ll realize which parts of you were just for show this whole time. You’ll realize which parts were always non-negotiable, and you’ll hold them closer.
You’ll definitely get lost here, so be comfortable with spinning around on a sidewalk, craning your neck for a street sign. You’ll miss the squirrels that lived in your Missouri walls because the roaches you have now aren’t nearly as cute. You’ll assume, correctly, that finding a happy home in D.C. will be a little bit harder than you planned.
But in other assumptions, you’re wrong.
There are warm people here, bubbly people here, who let you join their pub trivia teams at the Commodore and drink beer and laugh and laugh and laugh. You’ll cheer on new friends at races and performances and remember that friendships, like flowers, need to be tended to. Since no one is really from D.C., you’ll make friends from Dallas and Greensboro and Miami and Milwaukee. Your mentor will save you more times than you can count. Someone will surprise you with a bottle of Spotted Cow at work and it’ll be really great. You’ll reconnect with exes and old acquaintances you never really knew in college. You’ll kiss the wrong people. You’ll snapchat friends in Seattle and Russia, and miss both too much, too much, too much, always too much.
Hand to god
There are days you’ll wish you were sitting on an ice cream stained bench at a neighborhood Tastee Freeze
sitting in uneven bluestem drinking summer shandy
Swinging bare feet over a dock on the Greatest fucking Lake
But home has come to mean a lot of different things to you now. You’ll sit on a rooftop of wonderful people on a warm June night at dusk, and as you laugh yourself into tears, someone will ask, “So how’s D.C. treating you, a year in?”
At first you won’t know what to say. And then:
“Pretty well. Hopefully even better next year.”